Three parties and one coalition representing the Kosovo Serb community have registered to participate in the upcoming early parliamentary elections in Kosovo. Four electoral lists of Serbian political entities have a total of 50 candidates. Srpska Lista is the biggest of the three parties and the (absolute) favorite to win in the upcoming elections. The party has submitted a list of 17 MP candidates, which – nearly two years after the still-unsolved murder of Oliver Ivanovic – includes candidates of his ‘Freedom, Democracy, Justice’ civic initiative.
The first candidate on Srpska Lista’s list is Igor Simic, followed by Zoran Mojsilovic, Miljana Nikolic, Slavko Simic, Ivan Todosijevic, Jasmina Dedic, Milos Perovic, Ljubinko Karadzic, Verica Ceranic, Branislav Nikolic, Milan Kostic, Vinka Radosavljevic, Milan Joksimovic, Ksenija Bozovic, Boza Stojanovic, Mirjana Nikolic and Svetislav Jokic.
Although part of Srpska Lista’s electoral list, Bozovic and Jokic are representatives of a special political entity – the GI SDP of the late Oliver Ivanovic. Until Ivanovic’s assassination in North Mitrovica on January 16th, 2018, he was considered by Srpska Lista as their greatest political opponent. One of the party’s officials, the Vice-President, Milan Radoicic is on the run from Kosovo’s investigative authorities, on the suspicion of involvement in the murder of Ivanovic.
The leadership of the party was last elected in june 2018, when Goran Rakic was elected president, while Vinka Radosavljevic, Milan Radoicic, Nenad Rikalo, Dalibor Jevtic and Igor Simic were elected Vice-Presidents. Until then, Radoicic had not been represented as an official of this party, but he was already largely seen as the most influential figure in the Kosovo Serb community.
Srpska Lista has been a part of Kosovo’s institutions at a local and central level since 2013. Currently, this party dominates Kosovo’s local governments, and the party officials are mayors of all ten Serb-majority municipalities in Kosovo. Its dominance is also evident in all state institutions within the Serbian system, which includes provisional bodies, in addition to Kosovo institutions in Serb-majority communities. Srpska Lista was also the dominant party representing Kosovo’s non-majority communities in the Pristina government, and by the beginning of this year had as many as three ministers in the government of Ramush Haradinaj – Minister of Communities and Return, Dalibor Jevtic, Minister of Agriculture, Nenad Rikalo and Minister of Administration and Local Self-Government, Ivan Todosijevic.
Several ministers from the ranks of Srpska Lista did not complete their mandates, before Rikalo and Todosijevic, Aleksandar Jablanovic was dismissed as Minister of Communities and Return in 2014, and two years later, Minister of Administration and Local Self-Government, Ljubomir Maric, was also dismissed. Maric was replaced by Mirjana Jevtic, who resigned after ten days. Aleksandar Jablanovic is now a rival to Srpska Lista and is running in the elections with the party he now heads – the Kosovo Serb Party.
In addition, members of Srpska Lista, Slavko Simic and Dalibor Jevtic, served as the Vice-President of the Assembly and the Deputy Prime Minister respectively. Although it had 9 parliamentary seats, the Srpska Lista parliamentary group included a member of the United Gorani Party, Adem Hoxha until August this year, when the seventh convocation of the Kosovo Assembly was dissolved.
Ramush Haradinaj’s government was formed in November 2017 precisely thanks to Srpska Lista’s votes.
Since the end of last year, after the attempted arrest of Radoicic on suspicion of involvement in the murder of Oliver Ivanovic, and after Kosovo imposed taxes on goods from Serbia, relations between Srpska Lista and its coalition partners in the so-called “war wing” suddenly deteriorated.
Srpska Lista initially launched a boycott of central Kosovo institutions in November last year, while mayors of municipalities in the north resigned, and since the beginning of the year two ministers of the party were dismissed – Nenad Rikalo and Ivan Todosijevic. Srpska Lista described the reasons behind the dismissal of its ministers as “politically motivated.”
Even during the May snap elections for mayors of northern municipalities following the resignation of the mayors from the ranks of Srpska Lista, this party faced a problem in verifying its candidates. They were charged with having used the name “Kosovo and Metohija” in their resignations, which is why, according to the opinion of the member of CEC appointed by Self-determination, they violated the Kosovo Constitution, thereby losing the right to run for elections and consequently be elected. However, the CEC’s Committee on Petitions and Appeals accepted the appeal of Srpska Lista and ordered the CEC to nevertheless verify the party’s mayoral candidates.
Before the latest election scheduled for Sunday, Srpska Lista is facing what it sees and presents as “pressure and terror” of the Pristina authorities, while presenting itself as a victim – a position often reiterated by Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic and officials of the Kosovo Office. So far, this party has already been fined €30,000 for publishing a video which, according to the CEC, „violates the constitutional order of Kosovo“ and „incites hatred against members of other communities“. Furthermore, the media reported yesterday that two people were detained for 48 hours on suspicion that they were pressuring others to vote for Srpska Lista.
Even though this is the first time a lawsuit has been launched against someone for canvassing for Srpska Lista, Srpska Lista being fined for violating election campaign rules is not a novelty.
In the last Kosovo mayoral elections in the four northern municipalities, the party was initially fined €2,000, because Mayor Goran Rakic’s posters were displayed on the pillars and poles on public roads in the center of North Mitrovica a few days before the May elections. Kosovo’s Law on General Elections states that „the activities of political entities during an election campaign are prohibited, including the placement of posters, banners and announcements on public roads.“
Also, the CEC fined Srpska Lista €11,000 in the October 2017 local elections due to “unauthorized election activities” – manipulation of votes, as well as in the early Kosovo elections in June they received a €25,000 fine, also because of a video.
Since its founding in 2013, Srpska Lista has been the largest Kosovo Serb parliamentary party. So far, they have participated in the parliamentary elections in 2014 and 2017. In the 2014 elections, eight of its candidates won parliamentary seats. The party had 11 deputies until 2016 because Slobodan Petrovic, leader of the SLS, Nenad Rasic of the Progressive Democratic Party and Adem Hoxha of the United Gorani Party were also part of their list at the time. Similarly, this party won 9 seats in the 2017 elections, but one MP from the United Gorani Party also joined their parliamentary group, and the parliamentary group then consisted of 10 MPs.
While the last snap elections in the North were marked by the fact that, apart from the candidates of Srpska Lista, there were no candidates from other Serb political options in these Serb-majority municipalities, in the upcoming parliamentary elections Srpska Lista has competition (formally at least).
The Independent Liberal Party, the Freedom Coalition and the Kosovo Serb Party also registered for the elections. These four political entities are waging war with statements, often making grave allegations at each other’s expense. These accusations refer to the moral values of political opponents but also allegations of inappropriate pressure on voters employed in Kosovan or Serbian institutions. Ahead of these elections, however, Srpska Lista faced more visible criticism – at least on social networks.
However, in this election cycle, Srpska Lista hopes to win all 10 parliamentary seats reserved for the Serb community because „only all ten seats in the hands of Srpska Lista guarantee the institutional strength of the Serbian people and the support of our negotiating team led by President Aleksandar Vucic in fighting for a compromise and a better position of the Serb people in Kosovo and Metohija.“
About Srpska Lista
Described as a „state project“ since its founding in 2013 – first a civic initiative and later a party – the Srpska Lista was tasked with implementing the provisions of the so-called First Agreement on the normalization of relations between Belgrade and Pristina, largely referring to the closing of Serbian institutions and integration of their employees into relevant Kosovo institutions.
The councilors and mayors of Srpska Lista in the north were the first to form local assemblies and executive bodies, such as mayors and municipal departments, to start implementing Kosovo laws in this part of Kosovo after winning the first local elections announced in 2013 in these municipalities within the Kosovo system.
The first leader of Srpska Lista was Aleksandar Jablanovic – the current leader of the Kosovo Serb Party and Srpska Lista’s political opponent. Jablanovic was dismissed as the leader of that party at the end of 2015. After Jablanovic, the party was led by Slavko Simic until new leadership was elected in the middle of 2017.
Although the party’s officials have repeatedly emphasized that the party serves as „the banner under which all proud Serbs, who cherish and love their Serbia, gather“, while also underlining its „monolithic“ power, this party has also suffered periods of internal rifts. The most serious one occurred during Slavko Simic’s leadership, when the internal struggle for domination of MPs from the South and the North almost split the party. (Read more about it on our theme page: Sukob u Srpskoj).
However, the split did not occur at that time and almost absolute dominance of the so-called northern structures was established.
In line with the Serbian Government’s promises made in Brussels in April 2013, following the creation of local governments in the Kosovo system in the north, the Serbian MIA employees, civil protection and the judicial system were integrated into the Kosovo legal and administrative system.
Due to the resentment of the Kosovo Serb community in the north over the establishment of Kosovo institutions, which is linked to the first elections in November 2013 and Srpska Lista joining the Kosovo political scene, rumors of voter intimidation have followed this party from the beginning.
In 2013, allegedly, inappropriate pressures on voters were exerted in order to run in the Kosovo elections, while in each subsequent election cycle, pressures were allegedly exerted on the voters to vote for a single political entity.
The same year will also be remembered for the fact that during the several rounds of this election – which the Serbs in the north had resisted at that time, refusing to integrate into the Kosovo system, several serious incidents occurred, including the breaking of electoral boxes on election day, the assassination of one of the three candidates for mayor of North Mitrovica in the middle of the election campaign – Dimitrije Janicijevic. In the same campaign, another candidate – Oliver Ivanovic, was arrested for alleged war crimes. Ivanovic spent three and a half years in prison. He was assassinated not even a year after he was released on his own recognizance. A third candidate, a member of Srpska Lista, won the election and since then has been the mayor – the current Srpska Lista chief, Goran Rakic.
The party has been officially making more important decisions in consultative meetings with the Serbian president in Belgrade and has enjoyed open support from Serbian state officials since its founding.
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